Remember when developers started to be called “Hackers”? Or how many marketers now call themselves “Growth Hackers”?
No one will blame you if you believe Customer Success is just a rebranding of Customer Support or Account Management.
A Google Trends search of the phrase “Customer Success” shows how the phrase quickly rose to popularity in the past 2 years. in 2014 alone, “the number of Customer Success job listings on Linkedin has increased by 300%” according to Gainsight research. So what’s going on exactly?
What we are witnessing is the SaaS industry’s impact on the sales and delivery models of products. Welcome to the “Subscription Economy”.
Traditionally, businesses derived most of their revenue from one-time purchases or long-term contracts. But now, with cloud advancements, the rise of Software As A Service, and a bustling B2B economy, the sales model has shifted to renewal sales in the form of pay-as-you-go and subscription plans.
Delivery-wise, businesses can now quickly deploy a Minimum Viable Product and acquire customers as they test and improve the product. The data gathered from customers’ interactions with the product (surveys, support tickets, etc.) is key to how every business evolves.
Customer Success is the SaaS answer to some of the challenges that the subscription model presents. Can non-SaaS businesses benefit from Customer Success strategies as well? Before we answer the question, we need to define Customer Success.
Related: Customer Success Strategies for Non-SaaS Businesses
When most people think of the average Customer Support experience, something like this comes to mind:
Well, a bad experience at least. Whereas we tend to think of account managers as usually distant people whose only care is to close deals or satisfy high-profile clients
As opposed to Customer Support and Account Management, Customer Success is a proactive approach to customer relationship management. Instead of waiting to respond to customer problems—in the case of customer support, or waiting to solve client’s conflicts—as account managers do, customer success is about anticipating the customer’s current and future needs.
Lincoln Murphy, SaaS expert, of sixteenventures.com defines Customer Success as:
“Customer Success is when your customers achieve their Desired Outcome through their interactions with your company.”
By making sure that customers reach whatever outcome they desire from your products or services, you:
- Lower Churn.
- Increase Upsells.
- Increase Customer Retention.
- Increase Customer advocacy.
Since most of the revenue in the SaaS model flows in after the sale, a customer success department has to ensure the following:
- Customers are successfully in implementing the product.
- Customers understand how to use the product.
- Customers receive excellent support.
- Customers are engaged to share their feedback.
- Customers are interested in the continued use of the product.
- Customers are interested in acquiring new product features.
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Depending on the product or service that your business offers, your customer success manager might have to focus on some responsibilities more than others. In fact, the agility of your processes will prove invaluable in making the customer success role effective. Customer success teams can actually generate as much more or more revenue than sales teams over the life of a customer.
If the churn rates at the onboarding stage (Trial-to-Paid customers conversion for example) prove problematic, an agile customer success department should adjust its focus accordingly instead of sticking to one-size-fits-all approaches.
Is it relevant for non-SaaS businesses?
Your service/product does not need to be on the cloud for you to incorporate Customer Success into your business. Non-SaaS B2B companies, gyms, art workshops, and other businesses can benefit from customer success processes as well.
In the subscription model, the need to keep customers successful and happy throughout every single interaction with the company is urgent. In addition, there is a high focus on using customer data to implement key metrics in order to improve the product and customer experience. How does this translate for non-SaaS?
Customer Success, after all, remains about knowing your customers (segmentation article) and earning their trust.
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